Louder than a Bomb: Greg Smith

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April 4th, 2012

Omaha, NE – We continue our series on Omaha’s first Louder than a Bomb slam poetry contest today. High school students from across the city will be reading and performing their poetry in a series of competitions kicking off April 15th. We have been profiling a few of those students from different high schools. In the third segment of this four-part series, we visit Greg Smith from Creighton Prep.

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“Let me introduce myself… I’m gonna spit these rhymes like Mephistopheles.”

Greg Smith is 18 years old. He’s a senior at Creighton Prep and lives in a picture-perfect home in West Omaha. Pulling out a notebook that he decides he doesn’t need, he jettisons the opening line of his poem “Greetings.” It’s a reference to a demon featured in the historical Faust legend and literature.

“I’d always been writing and reading and doing lots of work with words,” he said. “And in addition to that, I had been listening to hip hop and rap for probably six months consistently and really getting into that and analyzing these songs and lyrics … that all sort of collided to create this interest in poetry and verse where I wanted to try it myself.”

Greg Smith, 18, and his mother Annette, in the kitchen of their West Omaha home. (Photo by Robyn Wisch)

Seated next to him on an elegant, modern sofa is Greg’s mother: Annette Smith. “I was just blown away really,” she said. When Greg first became interested in poetry and performance poetry, otherwise known as “slam,” he began performing for his family at home. “I was amazed by it because it seemed like it just came out of nowhere,” Annette said. “It seemed like it came out of nowhere. It was just bottled up in there and ready to bloom, ready to explode.”

After watching a documentary of the Louder than a Bomb competition in Chicago, Annette Smith began working with organizers to help raise enough money to bring it to Omaha. She said she was inspired by the contest’s ability to provide a window into young people’s minds – and give them a platform to express their thoughts and feelings.

“With some of my slam poems, it’s sort of like I’m standing somewhere and then I have to go sit down and write everything that I’m thinking right away, sort of like a stream… and that all comes at once,” Greg said.

“I had this one line in my head: I’m gonna spit these rhymes like Mephistopheles. I had that line in my head for a round two weeks and I was storing it for the right time when I was really feeling artistic and it sort of vomited out…”

“Words trying to be bigger than bludgeons
Click the safety on my brain and I know I’m lame to re-use the name from Faustian myths
I’m just trying to receive those Faustian gifts
I’m just trying to ride the coldest lifts to peaks perilous and performing pontifications to locations I can only dream of.”

Greg is applying to colleges this year. He said he hopes to continue writing poetry, while he pursues his more practical goals in his career.

“If things go well, I’ll probably become a geneticist and write poetry,” he said. “Or, in a perfect world, I would become a poet full time, and then Poet Laureate of Nebraska, then the United States, then Nobel Prize, all that sort of stuff, but that’s in a perfect world.”

Louder than a Bomb kicks off April 15th. For a full schedule and more information about the event, click here.

More:
Gearing up for Louder than a Bomb

Louder than a Bomb: Duchesne’s Gina Keplinger

Louder than a Bomb: South High’s Marissa Gomez

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